Trained as a classical musician before shifting his artistic focus to filmmaking, Bertrand Bonello contributed to albums by many musicians, including Françoise Hardy, Gérald De Palmas, and Daniel Darc. In parallel to his music career, he began making short drama films, such as Qui je suis, based on an autobiographical work by Pier Paolo Pasolini.
His debut feature film, Something Organic, which was presented at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1998, established him as a talent to be reckoned with in the new generation of French filmmakers.
In 2001, he directed the controversial feature The Pornographer, starring Jean-Pierre Léaud as an aging, neurotic director of X-rated films. It was screened at Critics' Week at Cannes and won the FIPRESCI Prize. The subject of sexual identity was also explored Tiresia, a portrait of a Brazilian transsexual, which was presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003.
In addition to his career as a director, Bertrand Bonello also performs as an actor and has composed the original scores for all of his films.
After directing the short film Cindy, the Doll is Mine starring Asia Argento, he made On War in 2008, which was showcased at the Filmmakers' Fortnight at Cannes, featuring Mathieu Amalric in the lead role.
In 2011, he directed House of Pleasure, a highly atmospheric and sensual film shot on a minimal budget, which marked a turning point in his career. This film was widely acclaimed by the press, and was selected in the Official Competition at Cannes.
Three years later, Bonello returned to the Croisette with a biopic about the famous French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, which was presented in Canne's Official Selection, where it earned praise from the critics. This film scored ten nominations at the Cesar Awards in 2015, including in the Best Film and Best Director categories.
He went on to make Nocturama one year later, a thriller about a group of young people who launch a series of terrorist attacks in Paris that revisits recent events in the French capital, rendered in the director's characteristic incisive style.